Third annual Gradfest prepares seniors for commencement

By Jessenya Guerra
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Graduating students navigating the third annual gradfest. Photo by Jessenya Guerra.

Students at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) filled the UC ballroom Thursday, April 4 for the third annual Gradfest acquiring burgundy boxes with their diploma frames, black plastic bags with caps and gowns, and swag to remember CSUMB after graduation.

Annie Warr director of annual giving and alumni celebrations who has planned this event the last three years says Gradfest is, “One stop shop for the students who have petitioned to graduate either in the Fall or now in the Spring.” Gradfest housed many graduate related activities such as buying an alumni gift set, a copy of the commencement ceremony video, picking up parking permits, picking up caps and gowns, and taking graduation photos. “We have professional photographers here, called GradImages, today and the same photographers will be at commencement taking photos there.”

Warr explained although there didn’t seem to be a high number of students in attendance at Gradfest at one time, overall the numbers are very high. “It’s hard to tell until we get the numbers at the end of the day because it’s such a long amount of time of people coming. When you see how many people are coming and going all day long – it’s quite a lot.” Gradfest was held in the UC ballroom the first Wednesday and Thursday in April from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m..

As of Thursday, April 4, “2,327 [students] have applied to graduate across the three commencement ceremonies,” said Hayley Azevedo, from the office of the provost. However, Azevedo and Warr say that number is constantly in flux as students drop out of walking at commencement and are still petitioning to graduate in some special situations.

“We’re doing electronic ticketing for commencement this year, this is the first time we are running electronically and not [physical] tickets. Everyone who has petitioned to graduate will receive an email, they need to click on the link and fill out the form and they will be sent electronic tickets for commencement,” says Warr. The electronic tickets can be used with the code on any electronic device or printed, however, once the ticket is printed the electronic code will no longer be valid. This is to avoid doubling up on tickets, “so if grandparents prefer print, they can have it printed, but make sure they don’t lose it.”

Students at Gradfest seemed to have an overall positive experience, however, some said there was a bit of confusion and perhaps more to be desired.

Justine Ramirez, a CSUMB senior graduating with the college of business, “[Gradfest is] a tiny bit confusing. I wish there were bigger signs overhead. I also wish there were more programs involved in helping students to financially afford things, or have packets available for lower-income students.” Ramirez expressed the caps and gowns were pricey and wished there were more options for grads to curve the costs of walking in graduation.

Mary Rossi, who graduated Fall 2018 and will be walking in the college of education ceremony said she didn’t buy a cap or gown from Gradfest. Instead her graduation outfit had been gifted to her as a hand-me-down. About the event in general Rossi only had to say, “ I am a little lost, and I have a lot of questions.”

This year there are three graduation ceremonies, the first on Friday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m., the second on Saturday, May 18 at 9:30 a.m., and the third on Saturday, May 18 at 3:30 p.m.. Warr and the CSUMB police department urge graduating seniors and their guests to be aware of the parking this year that will only be permitted with the printed permits given at Gradfest. They also urge to read your email regularly for updates in information regarding commencement.

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